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Gaming History You Should Know: The History of Final Fantasy VII March 17, 2020

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I know we typically do these on a Sunday, but right now the schedule is entirely up in the air and we’ve decided to adopt an “anything goes” mentality for the foreseeable future. So, that having been said, welcome back to Gaming History You Should Know, where we feature some of the best independently produced content from across the web focused on telling the story of gaming’s history.

When I was a kid in middle school there was nothing I looked forward to more than snow days. Snow days allowed a break from extremely stressful school time filled with dry lectures, constant bullying, and neverending homework. Let’s be honest, as an adult I can confirm it’s not like I was getting a useful education there anyway. Free from school’s time constraints, I could use the snow day to learn more about things that were actually going to be important to my current career, computers and gaming. On one of those snow days off, I found myself hanging out with my friend and their neighbor, playing a brand-new PlayStation game on their big screen TV, Final Fantasy VII.

I remember thinking Final Fantasy VII looked incredible, but I was a PC-only gamer at the time, and I didn’t have a PlayStation of my own. Because of that, I never started following the Final Fantasy games, but in the years since, I consider that a great regret of mine. Now, Final Fantasy games have seen an incredible resurgence in the past few years, with re-releases of the original games coming to modern systems like the PS4.

We are less than a month away from the release of what is likely the most fan-requested game in history, Final Fantasy VII Remake, a recreation of the original Final Fantasy VII designed to take advantage of the power of today’s consoles with Full HD graphics. But why is that game so beloved by gamers and what is the story of the original Final Fantasy VII?

Final Fantasy Union has been a channel I have been following for some time now. I admit my knowledge of the early history of JRPGs, particularly Final Fantasy games, are limited. Their channel produced incredible history documentaries on many of the classic Final Fantasy games, and even offers insight into developer Square’s history and business decisions. That’s why I’ve been so grateful to have this resource to learn more about this franchise that has been so beloved over the decades. Sit back and relax as they tell that story.

I want to thank Final Fantasy Union for letting me feature them on this website. Now that I can play the original games on today’s consoles, I’ve looked to this channel’s wealth of resources many times for essential information about FF’s history and I recommend everyone check them out.

Final Fantasy VII is out now for PC, PS1, PS3, PS4, iOS, Nintendo Switch, and PSP. Final Fantasy VII Remake is coming April 10th, 2020 to the PS4.

Gaming History You Should Know: Who Created Video Games? February 7, 2020

Posted by Maniac in Gaming History You Should Know, Histories, Uncategorized.
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I think there are a lot of people out there that want to know more about the history of gaming, but don’t know where to begin. I do not believe I would be any good to anyone without a full history of the industry I’ve been covering on this site for over the past year, nor do I think anyone should dare put a key to the keyboard that isn’t fully versed on what they’re writing about. As someone who has been following the history of gaming for the past ten years (and sharing some of that information with all of you) I would like to share with you a few of my favorite sources for gaming history.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of disinformation out there (even from normally genuine sources). We live in a world where I saw a documentary on The History Channel call the original Playstation the first (compact) disc game console, and that’s just completely incorrect. Compact discs have been used in game consoles since the days of the CD-i, 3DO, and Sega CD, all of which came out around 1991 (some of those first came out in Japan) whereas the original Playstation launched in December, 1994 in Japan.

So where can one find good information about gaming history, and where did gaming start? Well, I don’t want to give a whole lecture about the history of games in general (that might be for another day) but I would like to float out some great sources I’ve found over the course of my life which still hold up.

There has been tons of disagreement over who is the first creator of video games. The first video games were created by the late Ralph Baer, a television engineer who’s family fled to America from Germany in the 1940s. He was the creator of the “Brown Box” a prototype game console which through its controllers manipulated a television’s blanking signal to produce a two-player game of tennis. Here’s a look at some old footage of how his prototype worked. Props to the videogamesfoundation for hosting this video.

A replica of his original Brown Box is currently on display at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. I was fortunate enough to see this display in person and take these pictures.

Nolan Bushnell, the father of Atari and Chuck E Cheese, witnessed Baer’s early demonstrations of the Brown Box. We know this because his name was written on the sign-in sheet. The prototype functioned very similar to the game PONG, which was a game that would go on to turn Bushnell’s Atari into an overnight sensation.

Once the legal matters were settled over who owned video games (Baer’s patents held up in court), the spark to create video games ignited into a multi-billion dollar industry with profits that eclipse all other forms of entertainment.

If you’d like to watch a full documentary about the life of Mr Baer, I recommend seeking out the defunct channel G4’s Icons documentary about him.

May he Rest In Peace.

Gaming History You Should Know – Pokemon Center NYC January 12, 2020

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It’s Sunday! Welcome back to the first Gaming History You Should Know of 2020, where we highlight some of the best original gaming documentaries from across the web! Today, we’re going to take you back nearly twenty years (which sadly doesn’t seem as long ago as it should for someone like me) to take a look at something that sadly we will never have the chance to experience ever again.

Pokémon Centers have always been a staple of the Pokémon games. They’re a haven in nearly every town where players can take their characters to heal their Pokémon, swap out their Pokémon party or activate their link cables (or wireless adapters later on) to communicate with other trainers. In essence, they’re the coolest place for a Pokémon Trainer to hang out and I’m sure that many kids (and some adults) wished places like that existed in the real world. Well, did you know that Pokémon Centers do actually exist in the real world?

That’s right, there are actually Pokémon Centers all across Japan, they just function differently than they do in the games. They are decorated from top to bottom in awesome Pokémon decorations including original statues and art. In them, customers can buy tons of exclusive Pokémon merchandise ranging from plushes, figurines, snack food, clothing and a lot more. Players could also (depending on the location) interact with original Pokémon games you couldn’t find in stores OR eat incredible Pokémon-themed food at the in-store cafe. If I ever earned enough money to afford a vacation in Japan, you can be darn sure I would try to visit as many of these places as I could!

But these Pokémon Centers, while completely awesome, only exist in Japan. I’ve heard there are a few vending machines in the Seattle area that sell a limited selection of their merchandise, and a website also exists online which ships a limited selection of their wares to the US, but that’s it. No actual physical Pokémon Centers exist in the United States. However, that hasn’t always been the case.

What if I told you that a Pokémon Center used to exist in the US? One did. Located near the heart of Rockefeller Center in New York City, Pokémon Center NY was a Mecca for all Pokémon Trainers on this side of the planet. Here’s the actual television commercial for the store which contains some rare footage of its interior.

Doesn’t that look incredible? Sadly, I never was lucky enough to visit this place while it operated. It lasted only from 2001-2005. Video and photographs of it are rare and hard to come by due to the fact the store had a no cameras policy (for SOME reason that escapes all logic). However, we’re not here to talk about what the store looked like, we’re going to be featuring the hard work of an entire group who made it their mission to preserve the history of this magical place.

YouTube Channel Hard4Games, which specializes in finding and preserving extremely rare game content hit the gold mine with this video. After what must’ve been a MASSIVE undertaking by a group of some of the best preservationists and Pokémon Enthusiasts in the world, they succeeded in finding and resurrecting a major original component of Pokémon Center NY, the store’s Pokémon distribution machine. Take it away, Hard4Games.

The location previously used as Pokémon Center NY now serves as Nintendo NY (formerly Nintendo World NYC), which sells exclusive Nintendo and Pokémon merchandise you can’t find anywhere else (however Japan’s Pokémon Centers certainly have a bigger selection). I have actually been to Nintendo NYC (twice) and can’t recommend visiting it enough. While they no longer are a Pokémon Center, they do have a history of Nintendo museum on the second floor with some rare and classic items on display from the company’s history.

Special thanks to Hard4Games and the team of preservationists including Retro Ali for making this video and letting me feature them on this site! Without their work I would have never been as informed about this incredible store as I am now. If you’d like to know more about Pokémon Center NY, check out this preservation website: pokemoncenternewyork.com

Gaming History You Should Know – History of Super Mario Bros 3 December 22, 2019

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Its Sunday and that means it’s once again time to post another Gaming History You Should Know. In this series, we highlight some of the best independently produced content from across the web focused on the history of gaming. Today, we’re going to be highlighting a brand-new video produced by someone we’ve talked about before, Norman Caruso, better known to the world as The Gaming Historian.

In the late 80s, Nintendo was utterly dominating the video game market and would go on to legendary status in popular culture. In fact, many il-informed adults still believe Nintendo is the only company to ever make video games due to their complete dominance at that time. The NES console, (with its legendary exclusive games like Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda, Tetris, Duck Hunt, and Metroid) was selling huge numbers with no end in sight. There was just one problem.

Super Mario Bros 2 released in Japan and due to extreme difficulty and its identical graphics to the previous title, never was released in the United States. However, Super Mario was just as recognizable to young people of the time as Mickey Mouse and it was nearly certain Nintendo could make another hit for their console if they released a new Mario game in the US. Could they do it? Watch the video below and find out!

Special thanks to Norman, The Gaming Historian for doing this video about a game I cared about so much. Most people cite Super Mario World as the best Mario game ever made. For me, Super Mario Bros 3 is not only the greatest game on the NES, it is the greatest Mario game.

Super Mario Bros 3 can be played on the NES, Wii, Wii U, 3DS and Nintendo Switch.

Gaming History You Should Know – The Downfall of Star Wars Galaxies December 15, 2019

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Welcome back to another dose of Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the best independently produced content about the history of the gaming industry. Today, we’re going to be featuring the work of the YouTube Channel saintmillion and a video they produced about something that at one time meant a lot to me, what they believe to be the beginning of the downfall of the MMO Star Wars Galaxies.

Star Wars Galaxies was one of the first major Triple-A MMOs. It’s development was so closely followed the mainstream media covered it, and that’s something they NEVER do. At a time when MMOs like Everquest and Ultima Online were making huge money, Sony Online Entertainment (responsible for the previously mentioned Everquest) and Lucasarts announced they were going to release THE MMO gamers all over the world wanted, Star Wars Galaxies.

On paper, Star Wars Galaxies was everything every gamer could have dreamed of. A chance for gamers to create their own original playable character in the Star Wars universe, pick from a series of trades ranging from smuggler to entertainer, and explore all the familiar planets seen in the Star Wars movies! To avoid issues with the ongoing prequel trilogy, the game was set after the events of the very first Star Wars movie, now referred to as Episode IV.

Star Wars: Galaxies had a monumentally successful launch and had some fiercely loyal ongoing customers, but some vocal players found issue with the limitations SOE put on them for the sake of game balance. A different MMO was released in 2004, World of Warcraft, which became a phenomenon overnight and remains the number one MMO of all time to this day. Over time, everything from space travel, to new planets were added as expansions but it didn’t improve the player base count. Eventually, entire gameplay revamps were brought into to the game…which only served to alienate the previously loyal fans. When BioWare planned a different MMO in the Star Wars universe, set during the events of the Knights of The Old Republic timeline, the decision was made to discontinue Galaxies, effectively ending the game.

Why did it fail? Everyone had their own theories. By the time it was shut down the MMO bubble, inflated by copycats trying to compete against the hugely successful World of Warcraft, had started to deflate. However, saintmillion has their own theory and after having watched their video on the subject myself, I am inclined to agree with them. Check it out!

At this day, Star Wars Galaxies and it’s expansions are no longer playable. If you want to get a good picture about how high the anticipation for Galaxies was back before it was released, I recommend seeking out the documentary Avatars Offline directed by Daniel Liatowitsch. I was lucky enough to watch that documentary at a film festival held at the University of California, Irvine back in 2003. This documentary sadly may be a piece of lost media, as even though it received a DVD release, it is now out of print and a Google search failed to turn up any digital distribution for it.

Gaming History You Should Know – The Fall of Tokyopop December 1, 2019

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We are back from a well deserved week off, and we are kicking our return off with an all-new Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the best independently produced content focused on the history of nerdy culture. Today, we’re going to talk about a major component of Otaku culture, manga.

YouTuber Red Bard, who has an incredible channel focused on Japanese animation, produced this informative video about the rise and fall of a former staple of manga publishing in the US, TOKYOPOP. This kind of history fascinates me. I missed out on the original Manga boom in the US so it was great to have this video fill me in on what I missed out on. Take it away, Red Bard!

Gaming History You Should Know – The Game Boy Color Cellular Adapter August 25, 2019

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It’s no secret more advanced features regularly made their way into Nintendo hardware in its home country of Japan, be it rewritable floppy disk support for the NES or Satellite game streaming for the Super Nintendo. Today, on Gaming History You Should Know, we want to focus on one specific peripheral that BADLY needed to come to the US, cellular online multiplayer gaming. In the very early 2000s, prices for portable telephones and cellular services were becoming affordable to the mainstream and moved the devices from an expensive niche for rich businessmen to a tool that everyone NEEDED to stay in constant communication wherever they were.

That said, other than make calls, provide simple numerical calculations, and sending very limited text messaging, there wasn’t much you could do with a cell phone at that time. The best a basic cell phone could do was play the Snake game to amuse its owner for a brief time. In a world where the Game Boy had existed for a decade and Pokémon was already perched to become the biggest gaming phenomena of all time, while PC gamers could already play online multiplayer from their computers and laptops, these limitations were inexcusable.

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, Pokémon was the best portable game of all time. Every main game from that franchise made use of the best features of the Game Boy handheld, and Game Freak would continue to evolve their games to take the best advantage they could out of each new hardware generation. However, at its initial games’ launch in the early 90s, the game’s multiplayer features could only be done through local play, and it required one player to own a Link Cable. How much better would these games be if I could play them online? With online support in Pokémon I could not only play against anyone at any time, it would allow for game updates or even free goodies straight from Nintendo without ever having to step foot in a retail store!

Since the time of the Nintendo DS launch, we’ve have all of these features as a standard in every Pokémon game and that tradition continues to this day. But would it surprise you to know that these features were available in Pokémon games as far back as Pokémon Crystal for the Game Boy Color? You might not have known about it because truth be told, it was a feature that was only offered in Japan. Enter the Mobile Game Boy Adapter!

The Mobile GB Adapter was a Game Boy Color peripheral that allowed its user to connect their cellular phone to the Game Boy Color’s I’ve been waiting a long time for someone to produce a detailed breakdown of this peripheral so I could feature it on this website. Enter Retro Ali, who has a fantastic YouTube channel full of great retro Nintendo gaming videos. She did a fantastic look at this peripheral, what games supported it and how.

As far as I know, the Pokémon Crystal Celebi challenge that made use of this adapter was never brought to the US Game Boy Color version. That said, I heard it was ported to the Virtual Console version of Pokémon Crystal when it was finally re-released on the Nintendo 3DS. It’s still a shame the US never received this ability.

Pokémon Crystal is out now for the Game Boy Color and Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console.

Gaming History You Should Know – The PokePark March 10, 2019

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It’s Sunday, Happy Mario Day everyone! I know I should coincide today’s look at Gaming History You Should Know with something Super Mario related, but this piece of gaming trivia is too good to ignore.

Ever since Nintendo signed a deal with Universal Studios, Theme Park fans have been eagerly anticipating Pokémon coming to a theme park in some way. Very few people remember that Pokémon have previously appeared in a Theme Park of their own, because the Park only existed for a brief time. I’m talking of course about the PokéPark, which operated in Japan in 2005 and in Taiwan in 2006.

But what was the PokéPark? What could you do in it? How much did it cost? The YouTube Channel Expedition Theme Park is one of the definitive YouTube Channels I look at when researching the history of Theme Parks, rides, and attractions all over the world. I don’t know if it was because I requested it or not, but almost a week after I asked him to look into the history of the PokéPark this video was posted! Check it out.

This is a great video. Thanks again to Expedition Theme Park for letting us feature them today! If you wanted to look up information about any theme parks, whether they’re defunct or still operating, I totally recommend checking them out.

Gaming History You Should Know – Sonic the Hedgehog’s Theme Park Legacy March 3, 2019

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It’s Sunday, and that means the time is right for an all new look at Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the best independently produced content about gaming history. Today, we will be looking at the work of video creator Badnik Mechanic, and his videos about the blue streak that comes seeking through, Sonic The Hedgehog!

In the early to mid-90s, SEGA dominated the gaming landscape. The SEGA Genesis console was the first commercially successful 16-Bit game console in the United States, and a big reason for the console’s success came from the console’s hit game, Sonic the Hedgehog. Sonic quickly became the Genesis console’s official mascot and a slew of new games starring the blue hedgehog would get released on a regular basis. The launch of new Sonic games quickly became major events, and SEGA held special events to celebrate their release featuring the characters they created. Over the years there have been dozens of official Sonic costumes that have been used at press events and theme parks. Badnik Mechanic painstakingly documented each and every one of those costumes, where they were used, and talked about how accurate they are.

Anyone who lived in the mid-90s knows the rest of the story. Following the success of his games, Sonic’s popularity exploded into other mediums. At least two different Sonic The Hedgehog cartoon shows were broadcasted, tons of Sonic comic books hit shelves, and I even remember some young adult Sonic novels were sold in bookstores. However, that’s not where Sonic‘s popularity stopped. A big component of Theme Parks are the attractions and shows and there have been Sonic the Hedgehog themed stage shows at various venues all over the world. This is a rare honor for a video game, as I can only think of two other game properties, Pokémon and Mortal Kombat, which had a live-action stage show. Once again, Badnik did a meticulous history of all the shows he could find, enjoy.

Sonic‘s theme park history is not limited to mere stage shows and character meet and greets. Alton Towers is one of the most popular theme parks in the U.K. and it has been the subject of many in-depth documentaries. What I didn’t know was that at one point it actually had a Sonic The Hedgehog roller coaster based on Sonic Spinball. Where I’m from, we typically name roller coasters after superheroes, so naming a coaster after the Blue Blur seems like a no-brainer. Let’s see how it happened and what it was like!

If you’d like a closer look at the Sonic The Hedgehog themed suite you could book at the Alton Towers hotel, Badnik Mechanic got a closer look at it when he stayed at the hotel a few years ago. Take a look!

Outside of the US, Sonic’s popularity branched out even further. SEGA opened a series of popular arcades in the U.K. called SEGA WORLD. The places were gaming utopias filled with SEGA arcade machines and tons of decorations featuring SEGA’s most popular characters. People from the states who grew up in the 90s would have a better time equating them to the more recent Dave & Busters arcade chain. Sadly, many of these arcades are no longer in operation, or have lost their license with SEGA. With all this hard work and high quality crafting going into creating Sonic the Hedgehog decor for these venues, do any of them still exist? Yes, at least one or two of them have been found. Here’s a video detailing the history of a rare statue found somewhere in the mountain roads of Japan.

So that is our look at the history of Sonic’s Theme Park Legacy! I want to thank Badnik Mechanic for letting me feature his work on this site. You should totally check out his videos, they’re well written, well researched, and well edited. If you ever were a fan of Sonic The Hedgehog his videos are a great trip through memory lane.

Gaming History You Should Know – No More Heroes Retrospective January 20, 2019

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It’s Sunday and welcome back to Gaming History You Should Know, where we feature some of the best fan-created content from across the entire internet. On Friday, the Nintendo Switch saw the release of Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, the third game in the No More Heroes series.

No More Heroes has been a franchise that we’ve covered in the past but haven’t been able to give an in-depth discussion as of late. The games were directed by Suda51 and follow the exploits of Travis Touchdown, a gamer who tries to become the world’s greatest assassin. The game’s themes are deeply rooted in gaming, anime, and Japanese culture and hold a special place in my heart. While the newest game has been considered by most critics and fans to be a spin-off of the original games, it does follow story and plot from the first two games in the NMH franchise.

YouTube creator GhenryPerez is a big fan of game developers like Platinum Games and Grasshopper Manufacture. He’s also a big fan of the work of Suda51, and has created an ongoing analysis series of his games, Deadly Individualism. Up to this point GhenryPerez has featured six of Suda51’s games in that series, starting with Killer7. It’s a great video series which breaks down every single character in the game, talks about their motivations, and offers some behind the scenes histories on their development. If you ever had any questions about NMH, you need to watch these videos!

Hope you enjoyed these videos while you play Travis Strikes Again. Special thanks to GhentryPerez for letting me link these videos on the site. Check him out on YouTube his videos are great! Click here if you want to watch his most recent video on Lollipop Chainsaw.

No More Heroes and No More Heroes 2 are out now exclusively on Nintendo Wii. Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes is out now exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.